Getting started with Hugo

Nov 17, 2015  

I was looking for a blog engine which would take a collection of Markdown pages and turn them into static pages, which I could then publish on my site.

I found Hugo, which describes itself as:

Hugo, A Fast & Modern Static Website engine

Installing Hugo

Hugo consist of a single zipped executable. As I am currently developing on a Windows machine, I selected from the releases page. But Hugo is also available on Mac and on Linux.

I extracted the hugo_0.14_windows_386.exe, renamed it hugo.exe and put it in my C:\tools folder which gets picked up by the PATH.

Creating my initial site

The documentation on is plentiful. For the impatient, there is a quickstart section.

Basically, creating a site is done with hugo new site and the name of the folder where the site should be created. I chose site for that too, so I went with:

hugo.exe new site "site"
cd site

Choosing a theme

It took me some time until I settled on a theme which would best fit my needs. I picked Asuka Suzuki’s Angel’s Ladder, which can be found on GitHub.

mkdir themes
pushd themes
git clone

Configuring Hugo

The basic configuration is done in file config.toml. Here is an excerpt of what I have come up with:

baseURL = ""
languageCode = "en"
title = ""
theme = "angels-ladder"

  post = "/:year/:month/:filename/"

  subtitle = "Good code requires care."
  twitter = ""
  github = ""
  profile = "/images/profile.png"
  copyright = "Copyright (C) 2015, Pierre Arnaud; all rights reserved."

Note that the [params] section contains parameters which are dependent on the selected theme. Switching from one theme to another might require edits in this configuration file.

Testing out Hugo

In order to test Hugo, I created several Markdown files and put them into site/content/post. Every file must start with a header which looks like this:

categories = ["tools"]
date = "2015-11-17T17:19:00+01:00"
title = "Getting started with Hugo"

It contains the metadata about the page which will enable Hugo to do its work. Then, to see what Hugo produces, launch it in server mode with an active file system watcher:

hugo.exe server -w

Point your browser at the localhost URL and tada… You’ll see your web site, which will reload automatically whenever an edit is done. Global setting changes won’t be tracked, however.

I wanted my blog posts to be organized by year and month (when looking at their URL). Nate Finch’s post Hugo: Beyond the Defaults pointed me in the right direction and that’s how I came to the [permalinks] section in the config.toml file.

Getting rid of the the Share This Buttons

The only thing I did not like about angels-ladder, is the way it shows social media badges (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) and I wanted to get rid of them. That was quite easy. Open themes/angels-ladder/layouts/_defaults and edit single.html; just comment out the ShareThis Buttons section.

Fixing JavaScript code output

The default output produced by angels-ladder for sections of my Markdown tagged as JavaScript code was broken. I opened an issue and Yoichi Tagaya kindly pointed me into the right direction. I was not aware of highlight.js and I created a custom package for syntax highlighting and replaced static/js/highlight.pack.js.

Getting hugo new to work

The documentation says I should be able to create a new page simply by executing:

hugo.exe new post/

However, I got a strange error message:

Error processing archetype …

for which there already is an issue.

The solution (for me) was to edit themes/angels-ladder/archetypes/ to include a header:

categories = [""]

Customizing profile image

Simply replace the profile image in themes/angels-ladder/static/images. That’s it.

Building the final static content

After successfully testing my site locally, I decided to generate the public static content and copied it over to my web server.


The public content is available in site/public.